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Small businesses shift towards long-term homeworking

Credit: Canva

The after-effects of the pandemic will remain visible in workplaces with four in ten small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to allow homeworking after the health crisis restrictions are lifted, a new survey shows.

The study, published on Wednesday by human resources company SD Worx, surveyed 615 SMEs and registers a shift in attitudes towards work as more companies are willing to see homeworking become the norm rather than a rare exception.

The results reveal that changes to work habits necessitated by the health crisis will, in many cases, become common practice and will endure in the long-term as businesses recognise the value of greater flexibility between the home and workplace as a means of attracting and retaining personnel.

Indeed, Tulay Kasap, a legal adviser involved in the survey, explained that staff corroborate the asssertion that homeworking is appealing to employees – particularly younger talent. She cited staff feedback, explaining that “For at least one in three Belgians, a homeworking policy is a major determining factor when choosing a new employer.”

However, views on homeworking vary in different regions: Wallonia is notably less convinced of the benefits of homeworking with 62.3% of businesses stating their belief that a shift to homeworking has “little or no influence on personnel”. By contrast, over half of those surveyed in Flanders and the Brussels-Capital regions responded that homeworking had a “reasonable to considerable” effect on attracting staff.

Source: SD Worx

The study also raises questions about the wider benefits of working remotely vs. being physically present at the workplace. Despite the comforts that many employees appreciate when working from home, there are often significant advantages to going to a workspace that are important to take into account. Team-building, however forced and unappealing the term can sometimes seem, is undoubtedly facilitated by interacting with colleagues in person.

It is also worth noting that for approximately one third of businesses, homeworking is not possible or impractical.

In a bid to reap the rewards both of homeworking and working on a company site, many SMEs are now favouring a hybrid work structure with almost half of surveyed SMEs allowing one day of homeworking per week. Those carrying out the survey emphasised the desire for flexibility, both on the part of employers and employees, on the question of work in a post-pandemic world.